The counter-offensive made it clear that India will now hunt down terrorists and their sponsors who had till then taken India for granted. That game got over when the Indian jets rained missiles on the Pakistani soil and returned home to mark a story of triumph….. writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
On February 26 last year, the Indian Air Force (IAF), in a daring mission, destroyed a key Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp deep inside Pakistan and firmly established the paradigm shift in India’s military doctrine in dealing with a recalcitrant Pakistan–every new act of terror against India would be punished in newer and stronger ways.
More than 200 terrorists waiting to carry out terrorist attacks in India were neutralised in the attack carried out by a dozen Mirage-5000 aircraft, aided by multiple support platforms.
The surgical strike, unambiguously reset the Indian response to Pak-sponsored terrorism and proved, once again, the superiority of India’s military capability over Pakistan.
The counter-offensive made it clear that India will now hunt down terrorists and their sponsors who had till then taken India for granted. That game got over when the Indian jets rained missiles on the Pakistani soil and returned home to mark a story of triumph.
In one go, the Indian punitive operation, to avenge the dastardly killing of 40 CRPF personnel in a Pak-sponsored terrorist attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and sent a clear and powerful message to the Generals and their terrorist proxies that it was no longer`business is as usual`. Now they have to face a new, aggressive India which is now ready to take terrorists and their sponsors head-on.
The targeted attack on the terrorist camp in the upper reaches of Balakot town in Mansehra district in the early hours of February 26 had many firsts to its credit.
It was the first time such an attack deep inside enemy territory was carried out by the Indian military since 1971. It was the first post-nuclear aerial mission inside the enemy territory, hence far different in military terms than the 1971 mission. It was the first counter-offensive mission in response to an act of transnational terrorism. It was the first time some of the latest aerial combat platforms were tested, and proved, in real combat mode. It was the first time a precisely coordinated overt intelligence-military punitive operation was executed inside the enemy territory.
No less significant fact was that the attack proved the Indian military readiness and preparation which Pakistan was unprepared for. It betrayed gaping holes in Pakistani defence at all levels and exposed that Pakistani Generals relied more on bluff than real-time capability.
The fact that Pakistanis could not retaliate to the Indian surgical strike showed how India played its military and diplomatic cards well. It was an exceedingly well planned and executed operation involving multitude of intelligence services, military units and political leadership.
The attack was calibrated to avoid any civilian casualties, a tactic which worked as part of the plan to isolate terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistani public perception.
The management of the strike and its possible aftermath was remarkable and invited awe and appreciation from countries across the world. Even the so-called allies of Pakistan, could only make a muted response.
The February 26 strike, where the country stood as one against the enemy, added another golden chapter in the glorious military tradition of India.